UK Mothering Sunday: Happy Mothers’ Day

Mother’s Day seems to be a bit of a moveable feast with it featuring on different months and days around the world. Not that I need to be concerned: I don’t have any kids, just the one big baby to look after.

My mother died some years ago so I don’t have to worry what to buy her to celebrate her special day, though she was an easy woman to buy presents for largely because she used to tell you what she’d like as a gift. She would say things like: “Your mother’s run out of her favourite body lotion.” Additionally, she never wanted a card because she felt they were a waste of money. She preferred us to spend more on her gift – no flies on her! My father famously would buy her a birthday card and use it for a number of years in succession.

In case you hadn’t guessed, in our household my father was the purchaser of all cards and gifts. My mother was however very generous. If you went out with her and saw something you liked, she would buy it for you. She saw no need to wait for your birthday or Christmas.

Getting married oh so many years ago and acquiring a mother-in-law, whom I refer to as the outlaw, meant I then had to buy two presents for Mothers’ Day. As you all know, my beloved is not good at either purchasing cards or presents. The outlaw’s present was always what you might call “nominal.”

Once my mother died, I advised my beloved that I would no longer buy the outlaw a Mother’s Day card or present, though would continue to purchase her birthday and Xmas presents. Consequently, the outlaw hasn’t received a Mother’s Day card since 2011. My beloved’s excuse is that Mothering Sunday in France is in May so he can’t buy her a card in March. This is despite his regular trips to UK.

My beloved is the apple of his mother’s eye and can do no wrong, ever. She has recently moved involuntarily into a very nice nursing home close to my beloved’s brother and sister-in-law. The burden of caring for the outlaw has fallen heavily on their shoulders in recent years and frankly this long overdue move will certainly lighten their load. She’s been adjudged unable to care for herself and was becoming a nuisance to the other residents in her apartment block.

To give his brother a helping hand, my beloved has taken charge of the disposal of her property. In reality, of course, this means I’m doing it. Fortunately, my beloved along with his brother and uncle holds the outlaw’s enduring Power of Attorney. Even more fortunate, it’s joint and several, meaning one of the attorneys can act on the others’ behalf.

Thanks to Money Laundering Regulations, professionals such as solicitors and estate agents need to “know their clients.” Typically this involves seeing original identity papers such as a passport and documents which confirm one’s address. Not a problem as my beloved was over in the UK last week and could visit the solicitor and estate agent in person. However, the uncle, who’s the outlaw’s younger brother, is in his mid-80s, lives in the west country and doesn’t possess a passport, driving licence or even a free bus pass.

My brother-in-law is fretting as to whether the outlaw has enough money to remain in the home until the end of her days. She’s 93, she’s got dementia, she’s probably got sufficient funds. Plus, it’s unlikely she’ll remember that today’s Mothering Sunday. I’m  not however completely heartless, I gave my beloved a small edible gift to give to her last week when he was in the UK.



Musings on Mothering Sunday

It’s Mothering Sunday here in France and while I was out shopping yesterday I noted  the florists and chocolate shops were doing a roaring trade. I’ve been thinking about my late mother this week, not because of Mothering Sunday, but because the Chelsea Flower Show which she adored has just ended. She was a keen gardener and spent hours tending her garden ensuring that it was a delight to the senses all year long.

I can’t remember when I first bought her a subscription to The Royal Horticultural Society but it was so long ago that membership then entitled you to attend the Chelsea Flower Show free of charge. Ah, those were the days! My mother would come and stay with us in London for a few days with her best friend and the pair of them would lunch out at a couple of top restaurants, enjoy afternoon tea at one of the hotels, indulge in a spot of shopping and wear themselves ragged walking around the flower show. Once my father had retired, she dragged him around the show for a few years but, as my mother’s dementia took hold, she lost all interest in gardening and with a heavy heart I finally cancelled her subscription.

The QueenI visits the Royal Horticultural Society Garden at Wisley.

After a few years of grace, I had to pay for her flower show tickets but never begrudged the cost as the gift afforded her such pleasure. She used to read the RHS magazine from cover to cover and, whenever she could, also visited their gardens at Wisley (pictured above). My mother loved her garden but it wasn’t just about the flowers, she delighted in the wildlife that would venture into the garden from the golf course which it backs onto. All year round she’d leave treats for the birds, big and small, many of whom enjoyed a shower in the bird bath and fountain.

My father liked the garden to look good but had little free time to assist though he took charge of the lawn which he liked to be as green and smooth as a billiard table but the borders and soft planting were Mum’s territory. As they got older, Dad employed an odd job man to look after sweeping up the leaves, cleaning the paving, trimming the hedges and general weeding. He had a lawn expert who would tend to any mossy or bald patches, plus a gardener who would increasingly give Mum a helping hand. These gentlemen continued to keep the garden in good order when was Mum was no longer able to tend it.

One of the first things my father did after my mother’s death was to try to restore her garden to its former glory. In addition, he bought a stone statue in her honour. He placed it where he could see it every day and I assume provided him with some sort of comfort. My mother’s ashes and now his, sit in its base which is back in the garden though not yet in its rightful spot.

My sister and brother-in-law have remodelled the family house and are slowly turning their attention to the garden. I saw some pictures of it yesterday and couldn’t help but feel that my parents would be gazing down on it with exasperation, it’s a shadow of its former self. Though not from want of trying, my sister has been unable to find a landscaper who wants to revitalise it. She suspects that although it’s a major project, because the terraces are already set in stone and it’s just the planting which needs sorting out, it perhaps isn’t quite as remunerative for them as a total overhaul. However, I’m sure she’ll get there in the end and provide a fitting setting for my parents’ final resting place.